If the aim is for Chelsea to regain their place in the Champions League next season by finishing in the top four, they’re certainly making hard work of it. With their nearest competitors stringing together results, Chelsea toiled and toiled to a 0-0 draw against relegation battlers Southampton.
It’s not as if this were a defensive masterclass by Southampton. In fact, Chelsea made it far too easy on the visitors by struggling to find any sort of cutting edge in the final third.
The stats say it all. Chelsea dominated with 72% of the possession but only managed six shots on target compared to Southampton getting two shots of their own on target despite rarely attempting to attack.
At the moment, the Blues are the definition of a one-man team. The burden is on Eden Hazard to both create chances and finish chances. But on nights like tonight where the defence is sitting deep and no one can make a run in behind, his influence on the match wanes significantly.
But Hazard did have his chances against Southampton debutant goalkeeper Angus Gunn. In the first half, Hazard collected a long high ball in one of the few times Chelsea were able to stretch Southampton, but Gunn managed to save it with his face. Then just before the hour mark, Hazard shimmied in from the left to cut inside for a shot that Gunn was able to push wide of the near post.
Alvaro Morata got his chance to start in place of the injured Olivier Giroud and it was another mixed night of frustration and missed chances for the Spaniard. But he did put the ball in the back of the net after Cesc Fabregas picked him out inside the penalty area. The goal was disallowed for offside, but replays showed that he might have just been onside when the pass was played.
Chelsea’s night became even more frustrating when Marcos Alonso was denied a penalty appeal after being nudged over from behind in the penalty area. It wasn’t the clearest of penalty shouts, but it did sum up the match quite well.